Shifting Alliances: The Two Chinas and the United States

SHANGHAI COMMUNIQUE (1972)—An agreement signed in 1972 between the United States and the PRC pledging further talks toward achieving a normalization of relations and agreeing on the status of Taiwan as part of China.

Since retreating to Taiwan in 1949, the Republic of China government had, for several decades, represented "China" internationally. In 1971, the PRC finally mustered the votes it needed to unseat the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the United Nations. Chiang Kai-shek's response reveals much of the personal bitterness and his unremitting hope that the Republic of China would remain a prominent international player (12.2). This marked the beginning of the diplomatic erosion of the Republic of China's international presence and foreshadowed President Nixon's trip to Beijing in 1972, which culminated in the Shanghai Communique (12.3).

Resolution on the Restoration of the Lawful Rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations (October 25, 1971)

After the founding of the PRC in 1949, Chiang Kai-shek had relied on the international support of the United States. However, many countries, Great Britain and France among them, had recognized the PRC many years before Taiwan lost their UN seat. Many hoped to see Taiwan remain in the UN but not representing China. Chiang stubbornly refused all efforts that would strip the ROC of their position or to recognize "two Chinas." He repudiated all attempts to make Taiwan accept the same status of other divided countries, such as North and South Korea or East and West Germany. But by 1971, it was clear to many observers that the United States and Taiwan were fighting a losing battle against international opinion. There had been almost annual votes to pass the China seat in the UN to the PRC. Up until just hours before the actual vote, most thought the ROC would again retain the votes to keep their seat in the United Nations. At the last moment, several countries swung their votes to the PRC, and the final count was 59 to 54 in favor of the following resolution.


  • 1. Why would the United States seek to keep China's UN seat in the hands of the ROC while pursuing the normalization of relations with the PRC?
  • 2. Why was the ROC's loss of the UN seat so critical to the ROC?

The General Assembly,

Recalling the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, Considering that the restoration of the lawful rights of the People's Republic of China is essential both for the protection of the Charter of the United Nations and for the cause that the United Nations must serve under the Charter,

Recognizing that the representatives of the Government of the People's Republic of China are the only lawful representatives of China to the United Nations and that the People's Republic of China is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council,

Decides to restore all its right to the People's Republic of China and to recognize the representatives of its Government as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations, and to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations and in all the organizations related to it.

  • 1976th plenary meeting,
  • 25 October 1971.

Chiang Kai-shek’s Declaration to Compatriots Regarding the Republic of China’s Withdrawal From the United Nations (October 26, 1971)

Immediately after the UN vote against Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek issued an acrimonious declaration. Already 84 years old, Chiang Kai-shek had grown increasingly isolated and inattentive to shifting global politics. His Cold War mindset and outdated, repressive style of government seemed less and less attractive to observers both inside and outside Taiwan. Following the UN vote, the countries slowly began to switch their diplomatic recognition from the ROC to the PRC. The question of just what status Taiwan (ROC) holds—sovereign or independent, but no formal recognition of either—remains one of the biggest unresolved diplomatic questions in Asia.


  • 1. Why does Chiang Kai-shek compare the transfer of the UN seat from the ROC to the PRC to the League of Nations? Do you find it a compelling comparison?
  • 2. How does Chiang Kai-shek suggest the UN vote will affect the global situation?

Dear compatriots in and outside the country:

The 26th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations violated its Charters and Regulations, and voted for a proposition brought by Albania and other bandits affiliated countries who led Mao's communist bandits to steal the Republic of China's position in United Nations and it's seat on the UN Security Council. To retain our policy to maintain the separation between honorable and the thieves and to protect the dignity of the Charter, we announced our withdrawal from the United Nations that we helped to found, prior to the vote being put forward. At the same time, we declared the Government of the Republic of China and all Chinese people would not acknowledge the validity of the illegal decision passed by this General Assembly which violated its Charter and Regulations.

Mao's communist bandits are a rebellious regime within the Republic of China. Domestically, they have harmed and committed enormous crimes against the people. They are the common enemy of all Chinese people, especially the 700 million people on the mainland. Internationally, they are actively involved in sabotage and engaged in invasions that have been condemned by the United Nations as unlawful invaders. Now despite that the mainland is occupied by the Mao-Communist-bandits, the Government of Republic of China, based in Taiwan, Penghu, Jinmen and Mazu, is the true representative of the 700 million Chinese on the mainland—representing their common will and painful cries and offering them with the most courage and hope in their fight against violent force of Mao's communist bandits to obtain human rights and freedom. Therefore, based on either the principles of United Nations' Charter or on the natural laws of humanism, especially on the common will of all Chinese people, we absolutely will not tolerate Mao's communist bandits' unlawful occupancy of the seat held by the Republic of China in the United Nations and the Security Council.


For 20 years, the [Communist] bandits have continuously fought for control of China. Recently the fight has become more fierce demonstrating that both the ideology of the Mao bandits and the Communist system are totally bankrupted. People on the mainland, including the majority of the Communist cadres, have turned from disappointment to resistance. As Mao's communist bandits could not suppress the volcano [of popular discontent] that erupted underneath their feet they had no choice but to turn their strategy outwards and hope that through deception they could survive a bit longer. In fact, Mao's communist bandits are unable to make any changes to their objectives of “anti-revisionism" "anti- American Imperialism" and "anti all counter-revolutionists." Therefore, their international strategic change will cause them loosing stand either moving forward or backward in ideological and policy front, which will result more severe dispute and chaos in power struggle. Henceforth, the anti-Communism and anti-violence forces on the mainland may take this opportunity to speed up and become stronger. Facing such a change of situation, we must further reinforce our faith, consolidate our strength and intensify our military preparedness so that we shall lose no time in grasping the moment of opportunity, to speed up the spreading of revolutionary forces in struggle against anti-Mao and anti-Communism on the mainland.

Compatriots! The process of the Anti-Communism movement is just like moving ships forward in an unpredictable ocean with changing winds and clouds. As long as we all share common understanding on the basic situation towards anti-Communism, are not misguided by the temporary changes, and stay towards the right direction. We must remain closely united, collaborate with one mind, share fortune and misfortune, hardship and good life alike. We cannot become arrogant and remain alert in peaceful time. We cannot be not scared, disappointed, or delude ourselves during stormy time. The worse the situation, the stronger and more driven we become. Surely, we will reach the other side, save our compatriots and revive the mainland.

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